Dominican Republic: one dead in new blackout protests

One person was killed and one wounded in the early morning of Nov. 11 during protests over power outages in the community of Canca, Licey al Medio municipality, in the northern Dominican province of Santiago. Police spokesperson Jesús Cordero Paredes told the Spanish EFE news service that masked protesters had been blocking a highway with tree trunks and burning tires at 3am when Ramón Martín Medina Rivas and Emilio José Vargas drove up to the barricade in a truck carrying plantains and other farm products to be sold in the Santiago market. The protesters fired on the truck, killing Medina and wounding Vargas, according to the police.

Víctor Bretón, a spokesperson for the Broad Front of Popular Struggle (FALPO), condemned the killing and denied that members of his grassroots coalition were involved. The demonstrations had started on Nov. 10 over repeated blackouts and a number of local grievances, including the construction of a sports stadium. Working-class neighborhoods in the provincial capital, Santiago de los 30 Caballeros, the country’s second largest city, have reported 12-hour blackouts, while outages are said to have lasted up to 20 hours in the northwest of the country. The International Monetary Fund (IMF), which approved a de $1.7 billion credit program for the Dominican Republic on Nov. 9, has called for restructuring the electrical sector. (EFE, Nov. 11)

The electrical sector was privatized in the 1990s. At least two other people have died in protests over blackouts in the Dominican Republic this year.

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Nov. 17

See our last post on the Dominican Republic.